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South Salt Lake Journal

Walk this way: Granite Library distributes hundreds of shoes and books to children in need

Oct 01, 2022 08:42PM ● By Jesse M. Gonzalez

By Jesse M. Gonzalez | [email protected]

Libraries have always played a role in benefitting communities with resources, knowledge and personal development. Residents are able to use the quiet space to indulge in reading and to browse for and borrow books, movies, magazines and CDs. A library’s place in society is truly invaluable and a recent event in South Salt Lake proved this even more so. 

On Aug. 19, staff at the Granite Library, 3331 S. 500 East, distributed over 400 pairs of shoes, as well as books, for children from low-income families.

The Salt Lake County library had partnered with Operation Warm, a nonprofit organization, to make the donations happen. In return, they were met with hundreds of families thankful for the opportunity. 

In South Salt Lake, roughly one in 10 children are from families who fall just below the poverty line, and something as common yet necessary as a pair of shoes can go a long way for a child.

“There’s a chance for them to come in and get a free pair of shoes to help out with school starting, and then they can also come and pick up a book as well. Since we’re a library we always love to connect them to other resources that they may not know about, get them a library card if they need one,” said Sara Neal, the marketing and communications manager at Salt Lake City County Library.

It was the first time Operation Warm has had an event at the Granite branch though five others have transpired over the past few years at different county library locations. The next Operation Warm event will be in November—Warm Coats for Winter—and will also take place at the Granite branch.

Operation Warm has been around for 23 years and continues to thrive, supporting millions of children through donations, supplying high-quality coats and shoes to not only libraries, but foster care agencies and homeless shelters as well.

“I think we all know that for a lot of families, things are a little tight, especially with school starting and getting all of the supplies. So anytime we can help ease that burden is great.  We had a wonderful line when we started this morning. We’ve been happy that we’re able to fulfill that,” Neal said. “We usually focus on different neighborhoods and do that at different branches, so this one is primarily for South Salt Lake but anybody can come on down this morning if they needed to.”

Operation Warm had also designed the shoe for the event, only making different sizes and colors. The same will go for Warm Coats for Winter—the same coat will be specifically designed for efficient functionality though sets will be made based on color and size.

The fight against poverty can be doing something as simple as giving away shoes and coats for those in need, especially during the colder seasons.

“Also, here in Salt Lake, we have a lot of refugee communities, because this is a place where there is a lot of services for them, where they often settle, so to be able to connect them as well has been really great for us,” Neal said.

Aside from the state of Utah, Operation Warm provides service and supplies to other libraries around the country and even in Canada.

“They go to organizations in the community who want to be part of this, so the library is not purchasing the shoes,” said Matt McLain, the associate director for Community Engagement at the Salt Lake County Library.

“They’ll probably call me back in the middle of next year and say, ‘Hey, we’d like to do another one. What’s the next library?’” McLain said.